19 March 2007

Monduli Juu to Lepurko

On a trip you have to have a destination. Before the trip started the destination was some place like this below. A scenic small track with some animals browsing and few people and signs of people to be seen.
After 3 hours of riding the destination changed to this house pictured below, a house still with 10km of dirt track and then 50km on the highway to home. But the house was a goal for some greatly anticipated milk Chai. It is fluid and it is full of calories. I like milk.

We had left Arusha late, about 5:45 and only needed lights for about 30 minutes. We rode into and out of town and to the west, the route the bike club takes every Wednesday morning. After 25km we head north to Monduli town, and we turn at Monduli town and ride west again and up a road to Monduli Juu.

The "Juu" means upper part. Monduli Juu is a highlands part of Monduli mtns. It is an extensive plateau or wide ridge. It is well known as one of our beloved Prime Ministers comes from this area. Also the Breweries had extensive farms in the highlands some years ago. the road from Monduli town was good and as we started to climb up to the plateau it became tarmac again in a steep curving section.
that was short lived but the road was as good as a dirt road can be.

It was pleasant but steep. Pleasant because of the thick forest and birds and lush vegetation. In 30 minutes we came to the top and stopped to ask a driver which was the best way to Lepurko. Lepurko is next mountain after passing through the highland plateau. The first part of the plateau is almost like a caldera, with a fairly flat floor. The road is now a unimproved track wandering and splitting and avoiding mud holes.

Paulo is in charge of asking the route ahead. We did pretty good and only had to go back a few times.

Even the trees had flowers today.

It was pretty unique area. High treeless plateau with good rich soil. No houses just fields with grass in between them and in the ravines. We stopped here for breakfast about 9:30. We were both feeling low on energy and we shared a thermos of chai and munched our food.

The track was often mud now and our tyres started to cake. I knew if it rained we would have trouble getting out of here. We kept to the grass on the side of the track if needed.

I stopped to admire more flowers.

The track became smaller and smaller until a good part of the time the track was on the grass and the mud not a problem.

We reached the end of the plateau and could see across to the boma maybe 10km away. The area became more scrubby and less lush although it had rained a bit hear, now we were riding gently downhill.

Sometimes we took the wrong track and took off cross the grass for the right track.

It was in here that we were told to leave the track and take a faint foot path across the valley to avoid the bad mud in the valley. This valley I know is black cotton soil. I have camped a number of times on the other side and anytime you see whistling thorn accacia (drepanalobium) you know there is black cotton soil there.

as we get into the valley there are thicker trees and the path is very faint. It is good riding. Suddenly we see a heard of zebras very close. they are not too spooked. Notice how they blend in. there must of been about 80 in this herd.

If you enlarge and enlarge this picture you can make out zebra. Paulo was within 40 meters of them at this point. i was suprised they didn't spook more.

We come out of the whistling thorn valley bottom and into treeless grassland again

And up to our destination. A boma that we had stopped at a couple months ago and were given tea. Today we brought a 1/2 kg of sugar as a present. We knocked on the door and woke up the husband and he sent someone to call the wife to make us some tea. While waiting i was given a cup of boiled milk and it was so good. It was about 1130 am when we reached here. maybe 2 more hours home if the wind helped.

We talked with the husband and another guy came from across the valley. He lives next to Alais Murindat, who I know slightly. As we finished our tea and were about to stand to take our leave one of Paulo's tubes blew. We found a rip near the valve and patched it. replace the tube and pumped and within a matter of seconds it blew, but slower. Turns out the rip "tape" was hard plastic and there was a sharp piece sticking up. When tubes start to go wrong they can really go wrong. This was too close to the valve to properly patch so we made a whole in the patch and slipped it over. It leaked slightly and the slime was not sealing it. So we put on my spare tube, which the valve broke off after pumping up to pressure. We put on the other tube and if we kept pressure below 30lbs it held air. That took us more than an hour. We started on the track back to the highway. with only 2 km to go Paulo's back tire went flat fast. the valve stem broke off completely.

I gave paulo all the money I had and continued. He would walk to the road and try to catch a lift or a bus. If he didn't pass me on the road home i would come back in the car.

the wind was in my favor again today. I had 50miles to go home now on the highway. It was sunny but not too hot. It was now 3pm. I rode pretty steadily stopping a couple of times to adjust this and that. My butt was a bit sore. Today i rode in hiking shorts or my butt has lost its "edge"? My hands seemed to carry too much load and forearms ached a bit. With about 25 km to go a mini bus slowed as it passed me and the conductor yelled that my buddy was in the van and speed off. That was a relief.

I kept spinning on home . I noticed that i was trying to coast more than normally. Just before the short cut through the coffee plantation I met a guy heavily laden on a bike with a huge pile of firewood on the back. It should of been a kodak moment but i didn't think of it. I helped him by holding the bike and he finished adding the last of his load. the front tyre had no weight. It poured for 5 minutes before i reached home.

I was a bit aching

02 March 2007

Arusha to Mbeya Ride 2004

In October 2004 Mike Peterson and I decided to ride unsupported from Arusha to Mbeya , a distance of 1260 km, in 5 days. Then everyone in the club wanted to do it so it became a Arusha Cycling Club ride. We did do it in 5 days but we had a support vehicle. I finally put pics up on a webpage . It is just the gallery, no story.

It was easier than I expected. Not easy, easier than expected.

We rode from 5:45am to 6 or 7pm each day. We stopped 4-5 times per day for food. It was a great ride with a great group of riders. We camped the first two nights and stayed in guest houses the other nights. It took two days to drive home!

Arusha to Mbeya 2004